Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened Friday while you were installing  your cat elevator

Bucks 95 Jazz 87: Terrific game start to finish. Milwaukee crowd (one of the best in the league) was into it, players were buckled in, tight finish.

Brandon Jennings was terrific for three quarters, then got a little too into it. He first had a bad foul on a reach in against Deron Williams, then rushed a layup he had blocked with time left on the clock which would have ended up giving the Jazz final shot, it was so early in the clock.

Luckily, as shakey as Jennings was late, Ersan Ilyasova was brilliant. On top of the game winning putback, he had 14 points and 8 rebounds, and a series of defensively brilliant plays.

Carlos Boozer was blocked on the last attempt, then got ejected due to no foul call. Because that’s his bag, baby.

Andrei Kirilenko strained a calf, which was huge. Carlos Delfino was being absolutely dominated by AK before the injury, and it was a game changer.

John Salmons has this Bucks team at another level. I realize how bizarre that sounds.

Lakers 102 Suns 96: The Lakers’ defense is freaking long. And against some teams, it’s a problem. Against some other teams, it’s a serious problem. Against the Suns, it’s a huge problem.

Pau Gasol got worked over for about 45 minutes of the game, then facescraped Lou Amundson, didn’t get a flagrant called, then drained a turnaround jumper.

Kobe Bryant had 21 points, 10 rebounds, and 8 assists, which is brilliant. But he also had 7 turnovers. The turnovers have been weird since he got back from injury. He’s having trouble passing out of double-teams he usually annihilates. Weird. Of course, he still hit several huge shots, because, well, he’s Kobe Bryant.

Grant Hill is insanely fast for as old as he is.

Ron Artest nailed a pull-up jumper off a crossover. That actually happened.

Bobcats 106 Clippers 98: Gerald Wallace sprained his ankle in the first half, which is the only relevant news from this game. The Clippers were without Eric Gordon, and any real reason to try. Yes, that’s right, we’ve entered that magical time of the year. The temperatures rise, the bluebirds begin to do it, your allergies go bezerk, and the Clips start mailing it in worse than usual.

In the approximate seven minute stretch it took Charlotte to break this one open, D.J. Augustin was quite good. Only 3-7 in 12 minutes, but there were some signs of life there, for a guy having a terrible season. Too bad he’s about to have Larry Hughes supplant him on the depth chart.

Cavs 100 Sixers 95: The Sixers were really competitive in this game, in part because Antawn Jamison sat it out, even with LeBron coming back. They owned the glass, which is an Achilles heel for the Cavs, an area they’re strong in but if you best them it causes big problems.

The big highlight of this game? James drops an alley-oop after catching the ball nearly behind the basket. You had to be there.

Boston 122 Pacers 103:
This was competitive for about seven minutes. Then the Celtics bench came in, and in a move that may signal the end of the world, ran the show, and the Pacers out of the building.

The Celtics bench outscored Indiana’s 54-38. Nate Robinson was especially dy-no-mite, slicing up the Pacers’ lazy perimeter defense. The big play of this game was Glen Davis’ man-up block on Josh McRoberts’ dunk attempt. It was one where you felt so bad for Josh, you couldn’t look at it. But you also couldn’t stop looking at it. Painful.

Rondo’s right to left floater might as well be his finishing move. It’s unstoppable at this point.

Heat 108 Bulls 95: Okay, so there are two things evident from one simple fact. Jannero Pargo was a huge part of this game for the Bulls. He started, was forcing the issue in his Pargo-way, and he racked up 20 points on 17 shots. Which is not awesome.

Fact one: Without Derrick Rose out and with Jannero Pargo being a big part of the Bulls’ offense, there was almost no chance for them to win.

Fact two: With Derrick Rose out and with Jannero Pargo being a big part of the Bulls’ offense, there was no reason this game should have been as close as it was. Chicago had an 18 point third quarter, and that was it, but otherwise, the Bulls kind of hung.

Jermaine O’Neal was the difference maker, and he made life miserable for Kirk Hinrich, blowing him up twice when he went to the hole.

Can we throw out the Heat and the Bulls from the playoffs and put the Grizzlies in? Much more entertaining.

San Antonio 103 Timberwolves 85: The Nets are not tanking. The Kings are not tanking. The Sixer are not tanking. The Wolves? The Wolves may be tanking. Love didn’t play with a legit injury, but this team has turned into the post office. Manu Ginobili had a fantastic game despite not scoring with 7 assists that I couldn’t really notice because of the gigantic bald spot on his head.

Matt Bonner outscored Jonny Flynn. Renew your season tickets now, Wolves fans!

Pistons 101 Wizards 87: Will Bynum is the Pistons’ MVP this season. That’s not saying much, but he was incredible tonight with 20 assists. He ran the Wizards ragged. Let me put it in context. Will Bynum had 20 assists. The Wizards, as a team, had 23. Yeesh.

Ben Gordon had a nice bounceback game with 17 points. He only needs to score another 7,000 points to make up the rest of the worth of his contract this season.

Nuggets 102 Hornets 95: In fourth grade I did a magic show for show and tell with some stuff I got from a magic shop in Memphis. In the middle of the disappearing egg in the hat trick, I put the hat down for the finish, and you could hear the egg inside the hat clack against the desk. It was really embarrassing and ruined the appeal of magic to me forever.

The Hornets are hearing the plastic egg clack against the desk.

Chauncey Billups had 21 points on 14 shots, with 17 assists and four steals in the win. Three Nuggets had double doubles.

Grizzlies 119 Knicks 112: The Grizzlies barely tried for the entire second half and still won comfortably. That’s how much they killed the Knicks in the first half.

Mike Conley shot 50% from the field and had six assist. He’s playing the best ball of the season. If he’d played like this the first four months of the season, maybe Grizzlies fans like myself wouldn’t spontaneously have crying fits whenever a Tyreke Evans highlight package came on. Maybe.

DeMarre Carroll’s haircut is weird. The Knicks are not good. The end.

Thunder 104 Nets 102:
Looks closer than it was. The Thunder led by 12 at the break, and turned the jets off. Durant scored 30. Again. Most times in one season by one player in franchise history. Yes, the whole Sonics history. He’s kind of a big deal.

Devin Harris is back from the dead, which is kind of nice. 19 points and 8 assists for the point guard. He sliced and diced against a pretty good Thunder defense.

Trail Blazers 110, Kings 94: Cut off the head and the body will die. Words of wisdom. That’s what the Trail Blazers did — they focused on taking Tyreke Evans out of the game with their defense. When Evans gets into the lane, nobody is stopping him, but long defenders like Nicholas Batum can keep Evans on the perimeter more than he likes. It worked, the soon-to-be rookie of the year had just 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting.

Meanwhile, the head of the Blazers offense — Brandon Roy — thrived: 28 points on 10 of 13 shooting. Pretty much every Blazer had a good night. This one was over early and people who switched out to watch some college hoops are forgiven. Unless it was Pac-10 hoops, which is even more unwatchable.

Tyler Herro carries Heat over Celtics in Game 4, within one game of NBA Finals

Tyler Herro after Heat-Celtics Game 4
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If the Celtics targeted Tyler Herro in the 2019 NBA Draft, they have more reason than ever to lament their near miss.

Herro scored 37 points to lead the Heat to a 112-109 win over the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals Wednesday. The 21-year-old rookie put Miami up 3-1 and himself in the record book.

The only other player so young to score so much in a playoff game? Magic Johnson, who had 42 points in Game 6 of the 1980 NBA Finals at age 20.

The Heat will look to reach the NBA Finals in Game 5 Friday. Teams leading a best-of-seven series 3-1 have won 95% of the time.

Miami’s big concern: Bam Adebayo, who hurt his wrist late in the game. Adebayo (20 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and two steals) played through the injury but appeared to be feeling it.

He and the Heat just kept grinding through everything, though.

Miami won despite shooting only 10-for-37 on 3-pointers (27%). Forget about make-or-miss league. The Heat willed themselves to victory with aggravating defense, hustle, rebounding… and, yes, big-time shot-making by Herro, who made 9-of-11 2-pointers and 5-of-10 3-pointers

The Celtics committed 19 turnovers – some forced by Miami, some self-inflicted. The Heat’s zone defense continues to make Boston uncomfortable, though Marcus Smart (10 points and 11 assists) found some success penetrating and kicking against it. Jaylen Brown (21 points and nine rebounds) knocked down some of those created looks.

After a scoreless first half, Jayson Tatum scored 28 points in the second half. Stephen Curry scored 33 second-half points after a scoreless first half in Game 6 against the Rockets last year. That’s the only time someone followed a scoreless first half with so many second-half points in the Basketball-Reference postseason database, which dates back to 1997.

But those successes weren’t sustained. Tatum (six), Smart (four) and Brown (four) all had too many turnovers.

This series is even by points scored. But Boston has been just a little too erratic, which is why Miami has the key 3-1 lead.

Report: 76ers open to trading if they hire Mike D’Antoni

76ers forward Al Horford and Tobias Harris
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The 76ers said they wouldn’t trade Joel Embiid or Ben Simmons.

Which makes it confounding they reportedly want to hire Mike D’Antoni as coach.

D’Antoni has typically succeeded with teams that can play small to spread the floor and pressure opponents through speed… and struggled otherwise. Post-based Embiid and non-shooting Simmons don’t fit D’Antoni’s demonstrated style.

Maybe Philadelphia’s roster could change.

Marc Stein of The New York Times:

Keith Smith:

The 76ers could trade Al Horford and Tobias Harris to reduce their glut of bigs. But Horford was already on the block (good luck convincing anyone to take his contract), and Harris is also expensive. For what it’s worth, Harris could thrive as a small-ball power forward in D’Antoni’s system, but Harris is often pigeonholed as a small forward on this roster.

The Embiid-Simmons pairing is a fundamental issue, though. Whatever Philadelphia does with Horford and Harris, Embiid and Simmons just haven’t played like they’d fit well together under D’Antoni.

If the 76ers remain insistent on not trading Embiid or Simmons, there are only so many roster moves that can be done to help D’Antoni.

Adding further complications, Philadelphia might be seeking a new lead executive. That could explain why Tyronn Lue has also gotten so strongly linked to this job. It’s not even clear who’ll oversee the coach and roster, let alone what plan that person will have.

So, yes, it’s meaningful if the 76ers are advancing trade talks with other teams to make their roster fit D’Antoni. But there are still plenty of questions about what will actually happen in Philadelphia.

For NBA players, Breonna Taylor grand jury decision ‘not enough’

Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver wears Breonna Taylor shirt
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LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. (AP) — LeBron James sent the word to the Los Angeles Lakers in a group text on Wednesday afternoon, and basketball suddenly seemed irrelevant.

A grand jury in Kentucky had finally spoken. And James was letting his team know that NBA players, who have spent months seeking justice for Breonna Taylor, did not get what they wanted.

“Something was done,” Lakers guard Danny Green said, “but it wasn’t enough.”

Wednesday’s decision by the grand jury, which brought no charges against Louisville police for Taylor’s killing and only three counts of wanton endangerment against fired Officer Brett Hankison for shooting into Taylor’s neighbors’ homes, was not unexpected by many NBA players and coaches. They had a sense it wasn’t going to go how they hoped.

“I know we’ve been using our platform down here to try to bring about education and a voice in a lot of players on our team, especially also spoken out on justice for Breonna Taylor,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We have not gotten that justice.”

Teams came to Walt Disney World to finish the season and crown a champion, and hoping that the platform of the NBA’s restart bubble could help amplify calls for change. Players and coaches have used the NBA spotlight to make statements at a time when the demand for racial equality and an end to police brutality is resonating as loudly as it has in generations.

And Taylor’s story – the tale of a 26-year-old Black woman who was killed March 13 by police in Louisville when they burst into her apartment on a no-knock warrant during a narcotics investigation centered around a suspect who did not live there – has captivated NBA players. Many have met, virtually, with members of her family to offer support. They say her name in news conferences, wear it on shirts, scrawl it onto their sneakers.

“We have moms. We have sisters, nieces, aunties. And just like men of color have experienced traumatic instances, so have women,” Boston forward Jaylen Brown said. “That is an example of some things that happen to women in our country. So, we wanted to stand alongside them, but also make it that it’s not just us. I think the future is female, so it’s important to show our sisters that we care. That’s why it’s been important.”

Even for teams not in the bubble, it mattered. Atlanta coach Lloyd Pierce leads a committee of NBA coaches tasked with finding new ways to use their own platform to create change, and he’s encouraged his own players – Black and white alike – to speak out and take action, whether in Atlanta or their own community.

Pierce took Wednesday’s news hard.

“Yeah, there was a grand jury and yeah, they went through the information and yeah, they have facts to support whatever the claims may be,” Pierce said. “But that doesn’t provide any justice for those that are on the outside, those that feel like the police and law enforcement are there to protect them. … What currently is happening isn’t good enough.”

Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell:

Clippers big Montrezl Harrell:

National Basketball Players Association executive director Michele Roberts went a step further. “Sadly, there was no justice today for Breonna Taylor,” Roberts said. “Her killing was the result of a string of callous and careless decisions made with a lack of regard for humanity, ultimately resulting in the death of an innocent and beautiful woman with her entire life ahead of her.”

The league shut down for three days last month when a boycott that was started by the Milwaukee Bucks – in response to the shooting by police of a Black man, Jacob Blake, in Kenosha, Wisconsin – nearly caused players to end the season because they felt their pleas for change were not being taken seriously enough.

And Wednesday’s news was another disappointment for them.

“We feel like we’ve taken a step back, that we haven’t made the progress we were seeking,” Green said. “Our voices aren’t being heard loud enough. But we’re not going to stop. We’re going to continue. We’re going to continue fighting, we’re going to continue to push, we’re going to continue to use our voices.”

Report: Celtics were ‘very much enamored’ with Tyler Herro, whom Heat took one pick before Boston

Heat guard Tyler Herro vs. Celtics
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The Celtics – holding the Kings’ first-round pick – lost a tiebreaker with the Hornets and Heat in last year’s draft. Charlotte picked No. 12, Miami No. 13 and Boston No. 14.

The Heat took Tyler Herro No. 13.

A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston:

On NBA draft night last year there was a collective moan among the Boston Celtics brass right about the time the Miami Heat used the No. 13 pick to select Tyler Herro.

The Celtics were very much enamored with the 20-year-old leading up to last June’s draft

The draft is full of smokescreens and disinformation, especially from Boston. So, this can’t be taken as gospel.

But it’s still another fun chapter in the Pat Riley-Danny Ainge rivalry, which includes a previous example of the Heat drafting a player the Celtics coveted.

Herro made the All-Rookie second team and is now helping Miami against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals – no small feat for a rookie.

The Celtics settled for Romeo Langford, who had a far less productive first season and is now out for the year.

Of course, it’s far too early to declare either player will absolutely have a better career than the other. Besides, Boston never chose between Herro and Langford. The Heat got the choice and took the player both teams seemingly agreed was better.